I must admit, I first heard about The Cross at Kenilworth only in November last year when I was reading a tweet from a ‘celebrity’ chef after the Winter Good Food Show in Birmingham saying that he’s eaten there and how good it was. This led me to do a bit of research and found that The Cross is owned by Andreas Antona, the man behind Michelin Starred Simpsons in Edgbaston, Birmingham and the Chef Adam Bennett who is in command now at the Cross used to work there, as well as The Dorchester previous to that. Adam also took part in the prestigious Bocuss D’Or in 2013 achieving the best ever results for a UK team, and will represent us again in 2014.
The restaurant is set in a lovely renovated pub building and I have to say I loved the interior decor. It has managed to keep some of the rustic charm and old features but combined with some lovely more modern touches. The dining area is set in two rooms, separated by the bar and drinking area. One of the rooms is lucky enough to be adjoined to the fantastic open fronted kitchen. We had a prime view of Adam doing his thing on the pass, which was great to watch. I must say though if I was to go again, I would definitely want to be in this room rather than the other dining room because of this feature, but I guess some may find it off-putting.
The service was very friendly and attentive, and the waiting staff nicely chatty without being annoying! There was a nice wine list and it was good to see a fair few choices by the glass. It always annoys me a little when there’s only one or two choices for by the glass wines. Lee or I are often driving, especially as a lot of places we go to explore and try are not that local, and we like to have one glass of wine with dinner and when the choices are limited it’s a bit disappointing as we love our wine!! In this case we chose two glasses of Chilean Pinot Noir which were delicious.
Moving on to the food. On the Friday evening when we went, there was just the A la carte menu available, nice and simple with 5 choices for each course. Bread arrived first, which was ok, but nothing special, although the butter was deliciously salty.
For starter I chose the Beef Broth, onions, goats cheese, sourdough toast while Lee had the Crispy Duck Egg, Salad, black pudding, bacon and potato. My broth was fantastic. A layer of caramelised onion lay in the bottom of the bowl, covered with a charred and softened slice through a whole onion and the broth was poured around this at the table. On the side was a little sourdough toast with the most fabulous whipped goats cheese which was so light. The flavours of the sweet onion and salty broth and a mouth full of the goats cheese toast was one of those synergistic combinations that just works. And if you think about it, the whole thing was a clever twist on a classic french onion soup. Yum. Lee’s starter was also a hit, the egg was encased in a crisp bacony batter which added a lovely texture to the dish. Thumbs up so far.
The choice of main courses was mouth-watering and I liked the sound of them all, but I plumped for the Duck, cous cous, pomegranate, date and onion puree, purple sprouting, spiced jus. Again, I have nothing but positive comments about my main. The duck was pink and juicy with crisp skin, the cous cous was delicately spiced and dotted with pumpkin seeds which added a lovely crunch. The date puree added sweetness, and jewelled pomegranate seeds adorned the plates glinting and glimmering and tasting even better than they looked. The attention to detail in the these accompaniments to the duck was outstanding and it really was a winner of a dish. Lee had the Venison, Haggis, roots, Brussels sprouts, cranberry, Laphroaig sauce. I’m pretty sure he chose this purely for the Laphroig sauce! He too felt his dish was delicious, there was no faulting the cooking of the meat, the creamed sprouts were to die for, and again the attention to the small details in the garnishes was immense, each element was refined to perfection.
I couldn’t resist dessert, the sound of the Pear, caramelised with candied almonds, crème fraiche ice-cream cone was too tempting. It didn’t disappoint, the spoon cutting through the soft flesh, the caramel butterscotch sauce sweet and delicious and the creme fraiche ice cream cone was a cute little touch. Lee had a cheese selection which had a nice range of mild and strong cheeses.
We had a really great evening at The Cross and wouldn’t hesitate to return. Their lunch menu is really good value and they do Sunday Lunches too, so if you’re in Warwickshire, live nearby or passing through then I would thoroughly recommend.
Have you been to The Cross? I’d love to know what you thought.
16 New Street, Kenilworth, CV8 2EZ
Disclosure: We paid for our own meal, and all opinions expressed are honest and our own